Good Mounts with Lizardmen from Games Workshop

I thought I’d deviate a bit from plain cowboys and look at some figures from Games Workshop. I can’t believe the price of some of these though. $70 for a kit?! Are you KIDDING ME?! How do people even still play Warhammer?
But anyway the Lizardmen sculpts are pretty cool, and I like the background fluff on them with South-America-as-Lustria. Something about jungles makes them rather appealing.
I figured some of these could be useful as Dinosaur Cowboy mounts since some have saddles sculpted on. Just need some wide legged cowboys to drop into the saddle instead of lizard people.

Bastiladon
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First up is the recently released Bastiladon, who looks like a mildly overweight Ankylosaurus. The kit has an option to do a crystal laser thingy or have units mounted on it with some kind of snake dispenser. All that looks pretty ridiculous but the main dinosaur is nice and beefy so that’s neat.

Stegadon
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Next is the Triceratops equivalent called the Stegadon. The dinosaur has sort of a scrunched up face, but what I really like is the howdah on the back. I could definitely see de-Aztecing it a bit and leaving it empty so figures could sit right aboard the figure. One of these days I’ll get around to mounting a howdah on a Papo toy since I think that’d look a lot more atmospheric than putting the “mounted” figure beside the toy. The less gaudy gold howdah looks even better for this model, but again I just think of what I could get for $70 instead (the price might vary depending on where you’re looking from).

Carnosaurus
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Now we get into the carnivorous offerings with the Carnosaurus, which is just a big mish mash of various real world dinosaurs, but does a good job creating an imposing, menacing predator. The first picture (the gray dinosaur) is actually a Troglodon according to the website, and it looks like a Spinosaurus, which most people probably remember from Jurassic Park 3. Anyway I like the saddle work even if it’s still more Aztec than cowboy. The dangling reins and dynamic pose are very cool and would make a perfect platform for a melee focused character.

Terradon
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Here are some aerial dinosaurs equivalent to the “Flapper” type in Dinosaur Cowboys, in this case named the Terradon. There wouldn’t be much use for them since Flappers are non-combat dinosaurs just used for transportation. But they’re still pretty neat looking!

Razordon and Cold One
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And finally a couple of miscellaneous dinosaurs. The first picture is of a prodded Razordon and would be useful for a generic dinosaur encounter, or to represent a Ripper perhaps. The second is a Cold One and could pass for a Raptor if it was a bit bigger (since a Raptor can carry two people). $20 is pretty steep for a single figure, but I imagine you’re getting tired of me ranting about price :)

Conclusion
Anyways there are some nice options if you are a Games Workshop fan, or maybe already have a Lizardmen army and are looking to branch out in your tabletop gaming choices.

I’m going to try to get a game in soon and post another battle report, probably from the Wind River campaign concerning the Drylands Expedition reaching Hyran Mine. I’m thinking the posse will be hired to take on the Night Daggers and go from there. I’m also thinking of doing a fortified, Feature-heavy match with Weapon Emplacements, Shield Generators, etc.

New art just for this game from spohniscool

Right around the new year I did an art feature on spohniscool, an artist who had a great collection of line art involving dinosaurs and cowboys. I had talked with him and he agreed to do some art specifically for the game in his spare time. I’m really happy to present the first piece which he calls “Xenozoic Landscape”. This would be for the Campaign section. I really like the picture because it makes a person want to build a posse and explore. Really evokes the imagination.
Xenozoic-Landscape_spohniscool
The image is on his Deviantart page as well.

I’m going to work on adding in the line art for the next release of the rulebook (v2.0). I might keep the old sepia toned images for the History section (since they go well with the “Pony Express” image), and otherwise drop in line art. What do you think?

G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. and Pulp Alley dinosaurs pictures

G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.
I thought I’d mention two rulesets that sometimes end up including Dinosaurs. The first is G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. which is terrible to type, and has sort of a goofy looking website, but is definitely a labor of love and quite a cult classic. I wanted to share a bunch of pictures from the Boardgamegeek gallery, pretty much all from the user Yugblad. Pretty awesome looking games going on. Definitely a Victorian flair, since the game focuses on that era, but yeah, looks like a fun time.

gaslight_11gaslight_08gaslight_07

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The porter carrying the ivory tusk and running from the dinosaur reminded me of Kwabena from my Windy River test campaign. Also it makes me want to get a few porter figures, most likely these three 28mm porters from Reapermini. I don’t really have any non-combatant figures, so that’d be an interesting change.

Pulp Alley
The second ruleset is Pulp Alley, which is a bit smaller and looks to be focused a bit more on gumshoes and the Indiana Jones style of gaming (and that era). The official site has a Pulp Alley battle report forum with plenty of cool games. I thought I’d focus specifically on Dinosaur Plateau, a battle report that had some good pictures that I’d duplicated below. In general the reports (especially from the game designer) seem to have really great, imaginative terrain. Makes me wish I had some of those adobe houses.
pulp-alley_02
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Art: T-Rex Extinction

Trex-Extinction

Lego Lone Ranger set for alternative figures

I briefly touched on the possibility of using a Lego posse in the past. But the upcoming Lone Ranger sets from Lego seem like they’d make such an alternative even easier (mainly because they have some prebuilt terrain).

DC-Lego-Battle-056Related: Dinosaur Cowboys battle report using Lego posses! Read the Thermopolis Outpost Raid with Lego.

I think the shootable cannon in the cavalry set would be a neat way to play one of the original wargames, Little Wars by HG Wells, the way it was intended (with actual shooting over rolling to shoot).

Here are a bunch of box shots for the set Lego aims to tie in with the upcoming 2013 Lone Ranger movie remake:

Lego-Lone-Ranger_cavalry_builderLego-Lone-Ranger_silver_mine_shootoutLego-Lone-Ranger_comanche_campLego-Lone-Ranger_colby_city_showdownLego-Lone-Ranger_stagecoach_escapeLego-Lone-Ranger_constitution_train_chase

What is needed to play

Overview-Components
I took the above picture yesterday night, and am quite happy with how it turned out. The colors are nice and vibrant and I was able to fit in all the important game components. My intent is to put this at the end of the Game Overview section of the rulebook.

As a reminder, here is the list of items necessary (straight from the current rulebook):

• 30-­60 minutes of time (more terrain or larger, stronger posses will increase playtime)
• This rulebook and one Posse Roster per player
• Pencils and erasers
• Measuring tape or stick
• A flat surface to play on with representations of terrain
• 28mm character figurines or miniatures
• Multiple 12 sided dice (referred to as D12s)
• A few 6 sided dice (referred to as D6s)
• One of each 4 sided die (D4), 8 sided die (D8), and 10 sided die (D10)
◦ If these dice are unavailable you can substitute D12s through re­rolls or compressing a range of numbers
• Token markers for Moved, Acted, Fleeing, Panic, Reload, Stunned, Slowed, Stopped
◦ These can be simple scraps of paper, colored beads, discs of wood, or custom made plastic tokens

I still would like a way to cut out the D4, D8, and D10 and just keep the game to D6s and D12s. But Panic Movement is currently built around those dice and I can’t think of another flavorful, fun mechanic as a replacement.

Of course if the above picture looks like the hobby supplies you have lying around, and you want to give the game a shot, feel free to either check out the playtesting information or download the latest rulebook.

Art Feature: spohniscool

I generally try to keep an eye open for any art vaguely related to dinosaurs and cowboys. Compared to fantasy or sci-fi this genre is so narrow that any pieces are rare.
I lucked out recently when I found an artist called spohniscool on DeviantArt (the name can be offputting, but the site is well known and popular for aspiring artists).
So I combed his gallery and found anything Dinosaur Cowboy related, and figured I’d post them all here.

All the links go back to the original page, which has the full size version. If you get a 500 error on their site try refreshing, as it sometimes doesn’t like a bunch of rapid hits (which I assume is how you’ll be clicking the links as you holler “More dinooosaurs!”).

But first, my favorite piece from the entire collection, just for the way it evokes my imagination but remains so simple:
steady-by-spohniscool

A close second thanks to the dynamic pose and perfect fit it’d be for the melee combat section of the rulebook:
man_vs_maniraptoran-by-spohniscool

Now…release the thumbnaaaaaaails!

jousting-by-spohniscoollong_journey-by-spohniscoolthe_warden_of_artificial_selection-by-spohniscoolt_rex_on_the_tracks-by-spohniscooldispute-by-spohniscooltyrannoavid-by-spohniscoolfire_thieves-by-spohniscoolnapping_cowboy-by-spohniscoolnot_the_reunion_he_expected-by-spohniscool

And of course what would a dinosaur picture be without some comedy:

happy_valentine__s_day-by-spohniscoolzombie_raptors__quick_color-by-spohniscool

Campaign Ideas

firestorm-armada-campaignSo I was working on some ideas for a simple campaign system and map for use with friends in Firestorm Armada. I had created the map you see to the left when I thought, “Wait, why am I going to use all this energy for FSA when I could devote that brainstorming fury to Dinosaur Cowboys?!”. Of course I didn’t actually think of the words “brainstorming fury”, but you get the idea. The star map looked neat and all, and was loosely created using this creating Traveller maps tutorial. I had seen fantasy maps created with the same software before, and knew I could make something nice and jungle-y for Dinosaur Cowboys.
In terms of the software, I’m using Hexographer, a Java based program that allows terrain, features, lines, text, etc. to be placed on custom maps. There are a bunch of other useful features, but the end result can look something like the map below. And just a note, if the map doesn’t make you want to round up a posse and start delving into the jungle the rest of this post might not be for you.
dc-campaign-testmap
So you can see I put some basic settlements, roads (the black lines are paved, the tan lines are makeshift trails), hunting grounds, camps, rivers, jungles, deserts, mountains, and more to make an exciting slice of the shattered USA of 2285.
Now a campaign system has been asked for a few times, mostly from players who had tried Mordheim or Necromunda (pretty common due to Games Workshop’s popularity), and enjoyed the “post battle wrap up” where you get new territory, roll for injuries, etc. Both of these games abstracted the territory management instead of using a hex map with defined movement.
With Dinosaur Cowboys I had been aiming for campaigns to be more like RPG style games, with an overall Sheriff organizing encounters, detailing travel, and basically handling everything the rules don’t. Currently there are some notes for overland travel (recommended using real world roadmaps compared to a custom hex map), encounter chances, healing, etc. But I’d like to expand on these and flesh them out, especially around example encounters and some other details of posse management.
To this end today I’ve made the test map above and I’m going to start brainstorming additional campaign rules.

General Ideas
– To start the campaign would be structured around either a single posse against the Sheriff, in a more open ended structure. The other alternative, that is a bit easier, would be posse vs posse with the victory condition of controlling all the towns/areas on the campaign map. This is slightly less dynamic than a game with multiple armies per player since you’d just be moving a single posse around. The idea of managing multiple posses is fairly interesting though.
– Control of towns would grant bonuses, for example Neodollar income per campaign turn, maybe bonus Improvement Points and equipment and so on.
– Towns and other points of interest would have a preset defense force of some kind. A camp may be protected by bandits, a town by lawmen, etc. The Sheriff would control these entities during combat.
– Overland movement would use the existing “By Ground” travel rules under Campaign Game in the rules, which says “Movement statistic is converted to Miles per Hour in a 1:1 to relationship”. Which means the scale of the hex map would be 1 hex = 1 mile, so 3 MV would be 3 hexes. Currently terrain has no effect on Overland movement speed.
– Encounter chance may be changed to be percent based (currently a D12), and also effected by the terrain that is passed through. For example a base encounter chance could be 30%. If a road is travelled on the chance is reduced by 5%. If a posse moves through a heavy jungle this percent might be increased by 10%. Then the encounter chance is rolled at the end of the travel, with all modifiers.
– After battle injuries are really tough to do well. Just flat out reducing stats (“Leg Injury, -1 MV” for example) can lead to a posse “Death Spiral“. What is a Death Spiral? Basically:
Something that can happen in games where your combat skill is affected by your health (or similar attribute). If you take a hit, your combat skill decreases slightly (making it harder for you to hit the opponent and/or easier for the opponent to hit you).
While there is a certain realism to this, it can often quickly lead to the “Death Spiral” where each hit makes it increasingly unlikely for the loser to come back, as they are getting consistently worse at attacking and/or defending.

In the case of Dinosaur Cowboys this would mean if your posse loses, they get injured, but then they are MORE likely to lose their next battle, thus suffering further injuries, and certainly losing subsequent battles, until basically it’s a gang of gimps incapable of winning.
Financial loss can be similar, since losing 100 Neodollars while the opponent gains 100 ND is closer to a swing of 200, and can significantly reduce a posse’s effectiveness in future combat.
But there should be SOME kind of penalty for losing. In a player vs Sheriff game this is less of a problem as encounters can be scaled down. But in a posse vs posse scenario this is tough to avoid and can make it so early losses can stop a posse from ever being competitive.
I’ve started a discussion on The Miniatures Page forum about this to see what ideas the community has.

Where to Start
I think I’ll start with player vs Sheriff style. What I envision is similar to the old computer game Strange Adventures in Infinite Space or even Flotilla where the posse travels around, has a bunch of random encounters and events, and has a set endpoint (in the case of both those video games it’s limited by game time or number of turns).
In the case of player vs Sheriff the goal could be “completing” a posse, which means reaching the cap of total Improvement Points (in v1.3 this is 400 IP). Since you start at 100 and get 3 IP per kill this would take a massive 100 kills! Perhaps setting a goal IP up to the max would be a better and easier way to customize the game length.
Anyway part of this would be working up stats for generic NPCs and enemies that the Sheriff can throw at the posse. So lots more dinosaurs, bandits, drifters, etc. that can be combined to create an interested battle. I’d also work up some additional deployment scenarios to represent different situations that might come up in a campaign (such as having your camp surrounded).

For now I’ll start small and work on cleaning up the overland movement, encounter chances, etc. All these changes will go into the core rulebook and be part of the next release. Depending on the length of the rules I could consider splitting them, especially if a list of enemies and encounters grows too large and bloats the rulebook. That’s a bit down the road so I won’t worry about it right now.

I’ll try to do more posts here as I develop the campaign system, similar to the volume I had when I was fleshing out the original core rules. That way everyone can see how the campaign system is developing and the choices and challenges I’m facing.

Stylish dinosaur list with silhouettes

For those who like to visualize their dinosaurs, I finally found a good coherent set of dinosaur silhouettes. A fellow named Daniel Zadorozny made a wingding set of dinosaur images, and these were also turned into plain images on some sites. The set was missing the Fin (Dimetrodon) and Thickskull (Pachycephalosaurus) dinosaurs so I had to whip up my own silhouettes from those. The Thickskull is actually based on the stock image of the Papo toy.
So yeah I could revise the dinosaur list to include these images and I think it looks really cool. This new list will be in the v1.4 rules (…whenever those are released) so you have that to look forward to!

The font I used is (punnily enough) called Ding-o-saurs. You can download it from dafont.com or I made a Mediafire mirror. WordPress doesn’t allow uploading of TTF or ZIP files so I couldn’t just link from here. Anyway it’s a cool set, totally impractical yet totally neato.
I also got the Pony Express image added to the rulebook. The style doesn’t quite match the “old real world photo” look I had gone for before, but heck, it’s just too cool to leave out! Plus it ends up fitting pretty well into the “A Movement is Born” section talking about Dusters in the beginning history text.

Some Freebooter Miniatures

Steampunk-ish Miniatures
I found two really cool Steampunk style figures from a German company called Freebooter Miniatures. There is Doc Taranto who I think is great as a kind of mad scientist Neotechnoist. And then Dixie Dynamite who is a bit unrealistic but still makes a fun swashbuckler style cowboy. Definitely not the usual fair, and a bit more stylized in general, but still pretty cool! Click for the full size.

What I Have Been Up To
Anyway the blog has been silent for the past few weeks, and will continue to be that way until October. I’m busy travelling at the moment so I haven’t been back to the kitchen table for some wargaming or painting. Which is too bad since I wouldn’t mind trying out my new cowboy figures and getting back to rolling some dice.
Otherwise I did a minor fix to The Saloon around remotely loading invalid posses. Previously if you tried to load a posse that came up invalid (such as having less than 0 Improvement Points remaining) the app would just error out and not load the posse. However this became a problem when trying to load some posses created with older versions of the Dinosaur Cowboys rules. For example The Herd Mothers, a neat posse idea, but they have -6 IP under the v1.3 rules.
So the fix is to instead display a popup (should be cross browser compatible, but maybe not) which warns the user that the posse they tried to load is invalid. But then it still loads it. This is great for at least seeing the posse, or maybe trying to change it to be valid against the latest rules.

Finally painting (actual cowboys) again

Well after far, far too long using my old figures and collecting many unpainted cowboys I finally sat down and cranked out two figures. Both are from the Chronoscope line from Reaper Miniatures. They aren’t “heroic scale” like Games Workshop so all the weapons look realistically sized for once. The Chronoscope line has a TON of great figures and movie parodies and stuff.
The thumbnails are a bit grainy so I recommend clicking for the full size. Also the matte protective spray I use is TERRIBLE. I think it settled too much since my last painting night and now sprays on a fine white fluff sort of like grainy snow. Really annoying and it’s especially noticeable in the solo shots below. I used to have a great protective spray but it ran out, and I’ve been trying various brands ever since. Still no luck recreating that thin, even matte covering.
Anyways here they are:

The cowboy with two machine gun pistols is based off the character Tallahasse in the movie Zombieland. I went with an orange shirt to brighten him up, since I find it’s very easy to fall in a rut of “brown + green + black” for a figure. I tried for a worn look on the jean knees and upper thighs, gave him a cool bowler sporting jacket, and went for subdued black + metal drybrush guns.

Then we have Preacher Pike, who I’ve had mostly painted for a while now, aside from finishing up the stand. Pretty simple look for him and he’d be great as a double in a Cthulhu game. I went for a more ornate bright silver hand shotgun, simple but dashing red shirt, and a worn look to his outstretched book. In hindsight I probably should have painted the facial features, but that’s easy to say when the figure is blown up to large size in the picture.

After these I have a khaki wearing safari explorer, a Victorian era British rifleman, a Clint Eastwood “Man With No Name” imitation, a space sheriff, and a few more good ones just waiting to be used on the table.

What I’ve Been Up To

As you may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much. Generally I’ve been busy with socializing, playing a couple other tabletop games, and plenty of computering. I did get a Dinosaur Cowboys battle in a couple days ago and I hope to have the pictures and report posted soon (Update: battle report posted). I got to use my new model cacti for it and the plastic Litko tokens looked as great as ever (it was only their second outing).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pony Express with Dinosaurs

The Pony Express always evokes the imagination and pioneer spirit, even though it was only around for a year or so and ran a huge deficit. But the idea of lone riders blazing across the plains, scorching deserts, and high alpine peaks sticks with people. Some readers might have heard of the old Pony Express newspaper ad that famously declared “Orphans preferred”.
Well I recently posted a Photoshop request to turn that poster into a Dinosaur Cowboy themed image. I had some great help and here is the finished product!

And some of the raw images used, which are also great even without the thematic poster:

I’m going to see about working the modified poster into the rulebook somewhere, maybe around the overland travel section.

Some high res Dinotopia art

I’ve mentioned Dinotopia before, and although it’s not cowboy related it certainly has dinosaurs co-existing with humans. The setting is fantastic and really sparks the childhood imagination. I found a couple of high resolution pictures of Dinotopia art so I thought I’d share:

Definitely click on them for full size!

Space T-Rex Dinosaur!

Dinosaurs in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace:
(I’d recommend clicking to see the full-size, but I’m sure you have already)

I think it’s safe to count this one another humor break.